franklin graham

Image via RNS/Reuters/Nancy Wiechec

In the aftermath of this presidential election, I can’t help but see striking similarities between what happened inside the religious cult of my childhood and what played out for us, in the political cult of personality.

Here was the larger-than-life leader drawing followers to himself, despite the facts of his poor character, lack of experience, and even despite the fact that media, pundits, and pollsters claimed he wouldn’t — couldn’t — win.

Image via Fotosr52/Shutterstock.com

Humanists went to federal court in Denver to prevent Colorado schoolchildren from being asked to put together Christmas gift boxes sponsored by an evangelical charity.

The hearing on Nov. 16 was the result of a suit filed by the American Humanist Association, a national organization of humanists, atheists, and freethinkers. They are representing three humanist families who say the constitution’s guarantee of the separation of church and state is violated when their suburban Denver school district asks their children to assemble Christmas gift boxes that include the “opportunity . . . to faithfully follow Jesus Christ.”

Image via RNS/Reuters/Mike Segar

As it is, white evangelicals made up a little more than a quarter of those who turned out to cast their ballots. And by winning 81 percent of their vote, Trump was assured the presidency.

Now, evangelicals are expecting much in return from a president-elect who did not mention God in his victory speech, who was “strongly” in favor of abortion rights until he was against them, who has said he does not believe in repentance, who has made lewd comments admitting to sexual assault.

Image via RNS/The Star-Ledger/John O'Boyle

The Internal Revenue Service has reclassified one of the most famous Christian organizations, the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association.

At the request of the Graham organization, the IRS changed its tax status from a nonprofit to an “association of churches,” The NonProfit Times reported on Sept. 26. The change was made last November.

The change means the 66-year-old Christian organization no longer has to file what the IRS calls Form 990, a public statement of its financial information, including salaries for top officials. It will continue to publish an annual financial report, available to the public on its website.

Franklin Graham. Image via Paul Sherar / RNS

Pope Francis is once again making headlines for comments declaring, as he has before, that Islam is not “terroristic” and that all religions, including Catholicism, have “fundamentalist” splinter groups that can commit violence.

The pontiff made his comments during a flight back to Rome on July 31 from Poland, where he was presiding over the church’s triennial World Youth Day festival.

Franklin Graham. Image via Paul Sherar/RNS

The Rev. Franklin Graham picks up a toy stuffed animal, tattered by time and a child’s love, from a shelf in his office where his big game hunting trophies loom. It’s a little black sheep with a music box in its belly, a gift from his mother when he was a tot. When the son of Billy Graham winds a little key it plays, “Jesus loves me.” Franklin Graham, a hellfire evangelist and a social conservative force, is still a “black sheep” at 63.

Franklin Graham

Franklin Graham, son of evangelist Billy Graham, addresses the crowd at the Festival of Hope in Haiti, on Jan. 9, 2011. Photo courtesy of REUTERS/Allison Shelley

Evangelist Franklin Graham kicked off a “Decision America Tour” on Tuesday in Des Moines, Iowa, urging evangelical Christians to pray about the upcoming election and vote for candidates of any party who agree with their biblical values.

“Our moral walls and gates are down,” said Graham, standing before 2,600 people at the state’s gold-domed Capitol. “Any type of wicked thought and activity can come and go and our educators and our politicians and our churches seem many times to be more concerned about political correctness than God’s truth and his righteousness.”

Image via Christian Hartmann / REUTERS / RNS

Pope Francis raised the specter of a World War III “in pieces,” Muslims issued statements of condemnation, while evangelical Christians in America debated whether to speak of a “war with Islam.”

These were some of the responses by religious leaders around the world on Nov. 14 to the series of attacks overnight in Paris which left more than 120 people dead.

“This is not human,” Francis said phone call to an Italian Catholic television station. Asked by the interviewer if it was part of a “Third World War in pieces,” he responded: “This is a piece. There is no justification for such things.”

the Web Editors 08-14-2015

1. This Is What It’s Like Being a Gay Christian Rock Star 
 A year after Christian singer Vicky Beeching announced she is gay, BuzzFeed followed up with the songstress on reactions from the Christian community and her life since. “At times it felt like there wasn’t much respect for me as a person. It was either ‘We’re going to grab her as a mascot’ or ‘We’re going to shoot her as an example of this evil.’ For many conservative Christians, I became a sign that people were slipping down a slippery slope into unimaginable sin. People forget there’s a person hiding under a duvet wondering if they’re going to have a life left.” 

Adelle M. Banks / RNS

Russell Moore, right, leads a June 9, 2014, panel discussion as David Platt, president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s International Mission Board, listens. Photo via Adelle M. Banks / RNS

Russell Moore, president of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, is in the spotlight after interviewing former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and Florida Sen. Marco Rubio at an evangelical conference in Nashville on Aug. 4. Moore spoke with Religion News Service’s Jonathan Merritt about a range of pressing issues and the message of Moore’s new book, Onward: Engaging the Culture Without Losing the Gospel.

Sara Weissman 07-24-2015
Azhar Azeez, president of the Islamic Society of North America, speaks at a joint evangelical Christian and Muslim event. Image via RNS.

Azhar Azeez, president of the Islamic Society of North America, speaks at a joint evangelical Christian and Muslim event. Image via RNS.

An evangelical pastor from Texas joined American Muslim leaders July 23 in denouncing recent anti-Muslim comments by evangelist Franklin Graham as they announced upcoming efforts to build bridges between their religious communities.

In response to the killing of five service members in Chattanooga, Tenn., last week, Graham — son of evangelical leader Billy Graham — wrote on Facebook that the U.S. should bar Muslims from immigrating.

"I was so sad when I read the Facebook posting of Franklin Graham," Bob Roberts, Jr., pastor of NorthWood Church in Keller, Texas, said Thursday at a gathering on Capitol Hill.

"This is not ‘evangelical’ and even less evangelistic. I don’t want American Muslims to think we fear them or that they are our enemies."

David Gushee 06-15-2015
Photo via REUTERS / Jim Young / RNS

A Wells Fargo branch is seen in the Chicago suburb of Evanston, Illinois, 2015. Photo via REUTERS / Jim Young / RNS

Boycotts are most likely to work when the boycott is very carefully planned; when the boycotters clearly have the moral high ground; when they can convince the broader public that the boycott is a last resort; when they can build a critical mass of public support; and when there is some chance that a boycott can make a meaningful difference.

Graham’s effort to boycott Wells Fargo failed on all five counts. 

Jim Meisner Jr. 06-11-2015
Image via Lichtmeister/shutterstock.com

Image via Lichtmeister/shutterstock.com

This is awkward.

In a June 5 Facebook post, Franklin Graham suggested that it’s time to “fight the tide of moral decay that is being crammed down our throats by big business, the media, and the gay & lesbian community. ...This is one way we as Christians can speak out — we have the power of choice. ...Let’s just stop doing business with those who promote sin and stand against Almighty God’s laws and His standards," Franklin wrote on Facebook.

But Franklin’s popular autobiography, Rebel With a Cause, was published by Thomas Nelson, a Christian publishing company. Thomas Nelson’s publicity is handled by a company called Rogers & Cowan. One of the largest public relations firms in the world, Rogers & Cowan also is the publicist for ...

... Caitlyn Jenner.

Whoops.

Eliel Cruz 06-09-2015
Photo via REUTERS / Allison Shelley / RNS

Franklin Graham. Photo via REUTERS / Allison Shelley / RNS

If Graham is looking for national companies that have a zero rating, that’s going to be close to impossible. For companies that oppose LGBT equality, he’ll have to look at mom-and-pop shops in the 33 states that currently allow discrimination on the basis of sexual and gender identity.

Soon, Graham might have to stash his cash under his mattress, send smoke signals, and grow his own food.

Photo via REUTERS / Allison Shelley / RNS

Franklin Graham speaks at an evangelistic rally in Port-au-Prince, Haiti in 2011. Photo via REUTERS / Allison Shelley / RNS

Graham, president of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association and the Samaritan’s Purse charity, describes Justice Sonia Sotomayor, the subject of his latest post, as the daughter of immigrants who made good on the American dream.

“Unfortunately,” the post continues, “she is also an example of someone who seems to be very misguided on the issue of same-sex marriage. She voted to strike down the federal Defense of Marriage Act in 2014, and homosexual advocates consider her an ally in their fight to make same-sex marriage the law of the land.”

Christopher Hutton 04-15-2015
Photo via REUTERS / Joe Skipper / RNS

Sanford Police Department Chief Cecil Smith. Photo via REUTERS / Joe Skipper / RNS

Christian ministers should establish relationships with law enforcement, seek ways to become moral authorities in their communities, and listen.

Those were the top recommendations from experts at a panel sponsored by The Gospel Coalition on April 14 titled “Seeking Justice and Mercy From Ferguson to New York.”

The popular ministry offered an alternative approach to that of evangelist Franklin Graham, who was widely criticized for his recent “Obey the police, or else” comments on Facebook. The comments followed the spate of police killings of unarmed black men.

In response to that Facebook post, 31 African-American, Hispanic and Asian-American leaders, many of them evangelicals, signed an open letter to Graham, saying he revealed a lack of empathy and understanding of the justice system.

At the April 14 panel, pastor and former public defender Ed Copeland; music producer and Filipino film and TV actor Alex Medina; Sanford, Fla., Police Chief Cecil Smith; and U.S. Attorney Robert Lang offered tips to help ministers and other church leaders become “ministers of reconciliation.”

04-10-2015
Religious leaders have proven to be powerful voices within a larger conversation about “Black Lives Matter,” a conversation that opened up once again this week after the death of a man in North Carolina.
Lisa Sharon Harper 04-09-2015
Image via gst/shutterstock.com

Image via gst/shutterstock.com

We want to extend our sincere gratitude to all who signed the Open Letter to Franklin Graham in response to Graham’s original Facebook post on March 7. One month later, the open letter’s original team of writers, along with the Sojourners community, has been deeply encouraged by the broad support the letter has garnered. Thousands of faith leaders across the country have signed the letter with more joining in solidarity every day.

We thought you might be encouraged to see this updated list of principal signatories who have joined their voices to the thousands calling for repentance and reconciliation. Stay tuned for more ways to stay engaged in this conversation.

If you haven’t signed the letter yet, it’s not too late. Click here to sign the Open Letter to Franklin Graham.

04-02-2015
A critic of prominent preacher Franklin Graham denied that she and other co-authors of an open letter had advocated public disobedience against the police.
03-30-2015
We recognize that there are times when disobedience and resistance to unjust authority is right, just, and biblical.

Pages

Subscribe